Eiron’s Archives 07

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Suddenly everything was clear. Our planet is not, entirely populated by simpletons, dimwits and nincompoops, as the ‘Huge Ad Agencies of the World’ seem to believe. For it is they, the perpetrators of these infernal devices, who are cast adrift on the Sea of Amentia. I do hope that lightens the burden for you.

p.s. Use the excellent ‘Firefox’ web-browser and it will block all the pop-ups for you.


Dear Pangbournerailwaystation

I had never before pondered the conundrum which you pose. Thank you for pointing out the enigma regarding the fact that you can watch a black-and-white film on a colour television, but you cannot watch a colour film on a black-and white TV. ( not in colour anyway ). It is precisely this type of logical paradox which kept Bertrand Russell busy for so many years.

He frequently started his day staring at a blank piece of white paper, and then found it was seven’o’clock in the evening – and he had not written one single word of logical analysis.

To clear his mind, he took to walking on the local common of a night-time. Ultimately, it didn’t help him fathom his logical problems, but he did learn the three different calls of the night-jar – whereas most people only know one.


Anyway, I think I have a solution to your supplementary question regarding the outrageously high price of LCD flat-screen panel televisions . . .

Just knock a TV-sized hole in your living room wall – then slide in the TV up to the screen level – and cement it in ! All your friends and neighbours will think you have a modern flat screen model !

Dear Nocebo,

Three bottles a day ? Are you out of your mind ? Half is more than enough for me ! But to turn to your comment : Yes, I can imagine that it would be very irritating, and many other doctors have written in to tell me about this bug. ( Personally, I don’t use ‘Word97’ – preferring to stick to my trusty BBC Micro thank you.) For any non medical readers, here is an outline of the problem . . .

It concerns typing the name of any new syndrome which ends in the suffix ‘ -itis ‘. As an example, if you try to type, say, Blair-itis, it will unhelpfully be changed to Blair-it is . Similarly, God-itis will automorph into God-it is. Etc Etc.

The bug is, of course, known as Word-it is. Sadly, I am not aware of any cure.

Dear Eco-nomizer

Your query, though at first glance a trifle frivolous – deserves an answer. In this day and age, you are right to be concerned about the electrical power which your computer consumes. And, yes, the amount of electricity it uses does vary according to what is on screen.

All images are, of course, stored in digital format whilst in the computer’s random access memory. ( RAM ). A white pixel is stored as a string of three bytes, each of which is 11111111 in binary. ( That corresponds to a numeric value of RGB 255,255,255 )

Think of each memory location as a tiny battery. A binary value of ‘1’ is stored in the memory as a ‘pool’ of electrons, whereas, in a binary ‘0’ the memory location is discharged. Each of these locations needs thousands of electrons to remain in the charged state, and, to make matters worse, needs to be ‘refreshed (re-charged) every few millionths of a second !

As you can see then, an image ( or a web page background ) with large areas of white, will, in fact, be using zillions more electrons than a darker image. So your hunch was entirely correct !

So, help to save the planet, do not visit any websites which have white backgrounds.

Comment: Some readers have pointed out that the computer monitor also uses more current rendering lighter areas of the screen than darker areas. Ed.

Dear ‘ThedrumsThedrums’,

SiliCON is an element. Derivatives are – sand, amethysts and mica. On the other hand, Polyorganosiloxane, also known as SiliCONE, is a useful rubbery substance, much admired in California. SiliCONE is also a good conductor of heat, and is often used to connect the heatsink to a computer’s microprocessor, which of course is fabricated from SiliCON. SiliCONE is also used for gluing together the panes in fishtanks, the glass of which is based on SiliCA or SiO2, an oxide of SiliCON. Hope this clears it up for you.


Dear Topiaristsnightmare

Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear that “Linux ate your CD dirve.” The problem is – software – as ever. The best way you can protect your machine from viruses and bugs is to ‘disinfect ‘ your system. I call it the ‘digital Autoclave’ method. I can guarantee with 100% confidence that if you follow my advice, your will never again be troubled with viruses.

Step 1) Firstly, let’s remove the ‘safe haven’ where bugs can hide and reproduce without your knowledge. Unscrew the cover to your hardrive ( it’s a usually a bit tricky, because the screws have special heads, but if you have trouble, just drill them out ). With the cover off, ladle in a teaspoon or so of grinding paste ( you can buy it at any motor-repair store ) – then replace the cover. I’ve never known this to fail at disinfecting the drive.

Step 2) Now we have removed their hiding place, they will have to come out into the open. Which is where we will apply our Coup de Grace. Let’s starve them of the ‘oxygen’ they need to survive – electricity ! With the power-cord to your machine removed ( don’t forget that bit ! ) open the main casing of the computer. Then take a pair of cutters , or failing that, a sharp breadknife, and carefully bifurcate ( cut in two ) any exposed wires you can see inside your machine. All of them. Don’t leave even one for that pernicious flow of electrons to resurface.

That’s it ! You will never again be troubled. At least not with that particular machine.


Dear G0WivDaFl0

Yes, quantum computers can store ‘bits’ as 0’s or 1’s at the same time. If you can figure that out, you’re doing better than everyone else is.

Now, if I may, I’d like to say a little about a fabulous new dish which is taking the restaurants of Prague by storm at the moment ! It’s called ‘Crambe ’ and is a fine soufflé made with a wonderful vegetable which I hadn’t, until now, encountered. It’s a relative of asparagus, but has altogether more maritime overtones. If you were to imagine ‘sea asparagus’ you wouldn’t be far off the mark ! It marries contentedly with any game or fowl dishes, and should, if possible be accompanied by a glass of Marcincák ( but failing that any Neuburger will suffice. )

[A. You’re drifting off-brief again. Ed.]

Dear ‘TwitcherRoyale’

Birdwatchers, or ‘twitchers’ ( I noticed your appropriate pseudonym ) as they are sometimes known, don’t have much editorial space nowadays. Although I’m not involved myself, I have to declare a certain admiration, and very much like your idea for ‘birdcall’ ringtones. You could try approaching mobile manufacturers who, I feel sure, will most be interested.

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